Defendant Enters Guilty Plea In Death By Distribution Case

Manuel Alejandro Acevedo, 35, of Hickory, will serve an active prison sentence of nearly six to eight years following his conviction for death by distribution during Catawba County Superior Court on Monday, September 18, 2023.

The Honorable Lori Hamilton, Superior Court Judge from Davie County, imposed the terms of the plea arrangement after Acevedo entered the guilty plea.

The defendant will serve his period of incarceration in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.

The 38-year-old female victim was found deceased by a family member on February 6, 2022.

During the course of the investigation by the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, a cell phone text message from the defendant to the victim referencing a drug transaction was found along with a torn receipt that led investigators to video surveillance footage showing a purchase of items by Acevedo earlier on the same day.

Deputies and probation officers conducted a search of Acevedo on March 29, 2022. During an interview with investigators, the defendant admitted to knowing the victim and selling $40 worth of controlled substances, specifically fentanyl, to her.

The autopsy report for the victim showed that she died of fentanyl toxicity.

“Catawba County has seen a large increase in overdose deaths due to fentanyl distribution,” 36th Prosecutorial District Attorney Scott Reilly said. “The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office has worked hard on tracking down the sources and distributors in efforts to prevent unnecessary deaths.

“The Death by Distribution Act gives us the ability to prosecute individuals who sell drugs that lead to an overdose. We are going after traffickers and dealers who are consciously aware of the deadly consequences that their product is bringing about and doing it anyway because they value money over human life.”

The state law went into effect in 2019 and encourages effective intervention by the criminal justice system to hold illegal drug dealers accountable for criminal conduct that results in death.

The case was investigated by Tyler Hefner of the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant District Attorney Nancy Lee handled prosecution for the State with aid from Legal Assistant Amy Bishoff.